Graduation rates increase across state, region

Georgia still lags at bottom nationwide

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ATLANTA – State officials are touting the rise in graduation rates for the class of 2013, while acknowledging there is still considerable work to do to lift Georgia from among the worst performing states in the nation.

Locally, schools in the Fulton County School System also saw modest gains, with widespread differences among high schools across the system.

Last week, officials with the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE) released results showing 71.5 percent of seniors in 2013 graduated in four years. This reflects a 1.8 percent increase from 2012, but still places Georgia students among the few states with graduation rates hovering around the 70 percent mark. Those states include Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia.

Georgia’s reported graduation rate dropped considerably three years ago with the switch to “cohort based” calculations. Prior to that, states calculated graduation rates based on numbers – not actual students. So if 100 students entered high school, and four years later the graduating class included 80 students, the graduation rate was reported as 80 percent. Today, schools must track individual students as they move through high school.

That change in calculation dropped Georgia’s true graduation rate by 13 percent – from a reported 80 percent to a true rate of 67 percent in 2011.

State School Superintendent John Barge said he is still pleased with the upward increase of the graduation rate each year, noting Georgia graduates more students with each passing year.

“Under a more rigorous calculation method, the trend still shows that the percentage of our high school students graduating increases year to year,” said Barge. “We must continue our progress to ensure all students cross the finish line, because without a high school diploma, their options are very limited.”